Wake Up: Your Food Is Killing You

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"High-end" vendor warehouse in the Bronx

I’m sure there are many people who look at my website and think I promote “high-end food” because I think it’s fancy or trendy. That’s not why I do it.

I’m sure many people look at the prices on some of my partner food websites and think they’re being ripped off. That’s not what’s happening.

I have met with many specialty food vendors over the past several years. I have been to their warehouses in rundown areas of big cities as they looked at me quizzically for paying a visit in person. I wanted to see how they operated, who worked for them, how their food was stored. These people are not counting their stacks of money. They barely eke out a profit.

The cost you see covers their own expenses: food made by hand and not by machines (which causes job loss or outsourcing), food made from small-batch production (excellent ingredients are finite and need time to replenish, unlike synthetic ingredients that can be multiplied overnight in a laboratory); not to mention currency exchange, shipping costs, and more.

Of course, you are still entitled to reject their offerings. But that is where my motivation comes in. I’m not saying you have to buy an “expensive” tomato sauce. But I plead with you to pay more attention to what you’re putting in your body.

Food is not the same as it was when we were children. Read the ingredients in your food. If you don’t know what they mean (diglycerides, maltodextrin, malic acid, etc.), why would you put them in your body? Usually they’re multiple ways of saying “corn,” which is subsidized by the government (i.e. further proliferation of cheap food). Corn has no nutritional value; its derivatives are used as inexpensive alternatives to pure cane sugar and they make food shelf-stable. These hidden sugars have been directly related to the development of diabetes in both children and adults at levels never recorded before.

Many of these ingredients have been engineered to make food “diet” and “low fat.” Do you want your tombstone to say “She was skinny”?

I look around and see people my own age—in their mid to late 30’s—having health problems. One friend, at 37, is on medication to lower his cholesterol and his blood pressure. Once these conditions came falsely “under control” because of the medication, he was back to eating gas station burritos and making cheesy potatoes and steak for dinner. Eventually his body will react in a more severe way and he won’t be able to eat anything he enjoys. But he shrugs his shoulders. Because that’s tomorrow, not today.

You don’t have to buy “expensive” food, but at least buy real food. Pick out a few things at your farmers’ market. Take a little time to prepare it rather than stripping the plastic off something and microwaving it on high for two minutes. If you have time to watch “Access Hollywood,” you have time to cook a real meal.

As a grass-fed cattle farmer said, “Americans have begun to take cheap food as a right and that’s a problem.” People choose to spend money on a BMW or an expensive handbag, but then they want a deep discount on the food that goes into their children’s bodies?

The bottom line is I am not encouraging people to eat better food because it’s trendy or a way to impress your friends; I am doing it because I think cheap food is killing us. I try to stay away from doom and gloom on my website, but I look around and see everyone I know touched by cancer. It’s not if you’ll get cancer, it’s when. Maybe I’m being slightly alarmist, but shouldn’t we be a little alarmist about what is going into our bodies?

Jul. 16 2010 |
  1. Beatrice

    bravissima. very well said. grazie.

  2. Will

    Inspiring Jane. I really enjoy your blog!
    Please do a review of the Madison/Milwaukee scene, so I know if I’m missing any good spots.

  3. Kate

    Better quality food tastes better, too! Good post, Jane.

  4. charles engman

    Your comments raise numerous interpretations (and conflicts).
    The choice of price (cheap vs. expensive).
    The choice of ingredients (synthetic vs. natural).
    Lifestyle choices (where to allocate perceived, limited resources; BMWs vs. quality food for self and family), and too many others to discuss here.

    Ultimately, the decisions are made based upon the education of the consumer.
    If that education teaches that all food ingredients (approved by the FDA) are healthful and the price of that item is lower than the adjacent naturally produced one, is the consumer to believe they should purchase the natural over the less-expensive!?
    If the consumer were educated to know that natural ingredients were demonstrably healthier (which I believe to be true), that price differential would take on less significance.
    Unfortunately, from my perception, most consumers see low-cost food (eg.,eating at McDonalds or buying frozen pizzas, etal) as an acceptable trade off for the indeterminate long term health consequences.
    Your attempt to educate consumers (readers) of your website about the benefits of purchasing natural ingredient foods is laudatory.
    Keep up the good work.
    I look forward to the results of your continuing research.

  5. Cathy Mantuano

    Well done. So many people just don’t get the quality/price equation, particularly when it comes to the food they eat. Thank you for saying it so eloquently.

  6. Liz the Chef

    Well said, very well said. Just wait until you and your friends hit 60…Everyone I know takes some kind of medication. So far, I don’t…

  7. Carrie

    Thank you Jane! When I see food that is super cheap, an alarm immediately goes off, and I get a little sick to my stomach. How can we get that to happen to everyone else?

  8. Jen D

    Well said. It’s terrible, but I make sure my dogs food has a clean label but outside of getting my produce weekly at a farmers market, I definitely let other things slide.

  9. lilly

    So true.
    People don’t know all of what they are eating and don’t care.
    I am happy for companies like Gustiamo who not only sell healthy food but take time with the children in the neighborhood to teach them to eat right.

    I enjoyed reading this post.

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